Swim England

A nation swimming

We’re thrilled that pools are reopening ... but it's unacceptable many remain shut

Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson says a visit to the local pool today will be a joy for many – but sadly others will still be left frustrated.

When swimmers climbed out of pools across the country on Friday 20 March, little did they know it would be more than four months before they got a chance to return to the water.

Today, 128 days since the Government announced pools and leisure centres would be closing, many of our members will finally get the opportunity to take part in the activity they love once again.

It should be a moment to celebrate.

We are obviously thrilled to see pools reopening and hope that those who do get the chance to dive into the water and experience the unique feeling only swimming can offer thoroughly enjoy it.

For many, though, the 128 days of closure will frustratingly tick over into a 129th, 130th, 131st….and even longer.

We feared many facilities would be unable to open for business due to the crippling financial impact the coronavirus pandemic has had on them.

Sadly, those fears have been realised. Less than 20 per cent of publicly-owned facilities will be welcoming bathers back in the pool today.

Of course, more will open over the coming days and weeks … but that won’t be the case for every facility.

Worryingly, research has revealed that 30 per cent of public pools could remain closed until 2021.

Deserve better

That really is unacceptable.

Our facilities are in desperate need of financial help. Yes, we have been shouting about this for many weeks but it’s the stark reality we are facing and we’ll keep shouting loud on this issue.

I stressed to the Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston earlier this week about the real threat facing the sector.

If pools remain shut, jobs are at risk and hundreds of thousands may miss out on the vital chance to learn how to swim and enjoy the water safely – not to mention the impact on our sports.

We have come out strongly in the media making the case for all our disciplines and all aquatic activities.

We’ll continue to back the #SaveLeisure campaign and call for subsidies so local councils can make pools sustainable facilities and not enforce price hikes just to remain open.

Our clubs, swim schools, swimming teachers, coaches, members, recreational swimmers, those who rely on the water for physical or mental health benefits and even the generation that has yet to learn to swim deserve better.

Yesterday, we warned that swimming is in danger of becoming leisure’s forgotten activity.

We’ll continue to do everything in our power to make sure that’s not the case.

Jane M Nickerson